Hardware synths, vintage outboard and a nice comfy chair: Jesse Siminski shows us around his Berlin studio.
Heartthrob – My Studio
I live in north central Berlin and keep a work room in my apartment. Luckily my neighbours never complain about the noise.
To record and arrange I am using an iMac running Ableton Live and and older version of Logic Pro. Depending on my mood at the time, I generally tend to program beats in Ableton with NI’s Maschine and Maschine Jam. Lately I have been writing basslines and melodies the same way and exporting the MIDI out to my hardware synths.
For monitoring I use Genelec 8250A DSP Monitors, which have special internal software that allows for custom adjustment for the mixing room used. I work in rectangular room in my apartment and tend to keep things pretty chill volume wise, but these speakers have enough bass clarity and flatness to give the right sense of what is going on in the mix and how it might translate in a club. Acoustically, the speaker placement is pretty arbitrary but it works for me.
Also, a really comfortable studio chair is probably one of the smartest purchases you can invest in!
Toft ATB Mixer
My studio mixer is a 16-channel Toft ATB, which I have been using for about five years. I like the way it sounds and operates. It has a solid build, with good looking aluminium knobs. I love that it has switchable dual inputs which allow for inputting outboard gear on the same channel as those being used for the sound card – no extra unplugging of my drum machines, synths and effects! The first eight channels are set for my sound card for mixdown, while the other eight are reserved for my Elektron Monomachine, Machinedrum, Roland SH-101, TR-8, Korg MonoPoly, Yamaha DX7 or whatever other synth I pull out of storage. I use a few channels for the Eventide and the Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo.
Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo
The Chorus Echo is one of my favourite vintage effects. It actually has an analogue tape system which lends terrific warmth and specialisation to most everything. It has become an absolute go-to.
Eventide H8000, Moog Slim Phatty, Prophet 08
In the rack is Moog Slim Phatty and a Prophet 08 along with a few outboard effects processors and my two RME sound cards. For effects processing I use an Eventide H8000 for most reverbs, delays and modulation. It has a great digital in and out connection along with the standard analogue buss. I also use a Neve Portico 5043 dual compressor and SPL Charisma to enhance most computer-based sounds. I have found streamlining things to just a few really versatile, high-quality tools works well for me.
I have my studio set up so that I can develop my live set as well as produce tracks. The practice goes back and forth nicely between jamming and more computer based work. I have been using the Monomachine for over ten years and still love writing sequences on it. It’s very direct and lends itself well to spontaneous jamming.
Eventually I would like to add a hardware sampler to the mix and get away from the computer even more as having access to the internet is the number one enemy against productivity. I have an old MPC2000 in my basement and I am thinking of getting it back into the mix, though it will be rough getting into the LCD screen again. I think its good to switch things up.
Dining Room DJ Setup
Here is a shot of my DJ set up in my dining room… As you can see the records are a mess and need some love. Too many drunken friends have raided them during house parties past… I started collecting 25 years ago when I first got into techno growing up in Michigan. I also started to collect gear around the same time. I bought my first dance records at Record Time in Detroit, a few gnarly Probe Records, Communique and UK Jungle 12 inches which I mostly still have. I don’t buy a ton of records now, but still manage to hit Hardware, OYE and Space Hall in Berlin and other shops I come across. I wouldn’t say that I’m that great with the turntables but do really enjoy mixing with them. The little Gentle Monitors are quite sweet for the size and price…